Sahara Special by Esme Raji Codell (0-8072-1712-2)
This children’s novel by the author of Educating Esme is one that I listened to on audio. The story features Sahara, a girl who stops doing work at school when the administration starts a file on her and includes her letters to her absent father that they found in her desk. Sahara refuses to do any more work, so that they will have nothing to add to her file, and she is held back to repeat the 5th grade. Then along comes Miss Pointy, the new 5th grade teacher, who inspires all of the children to excel, including Sahara.
I enjoyed the character of Sahara very much. She rang true to me in her confusion, her anger and her intelligence. Miss Pointy, on the other hand, was too much of a perfect character. She had solutions to everything and very creative ones too. Yes, I understand that we are seeing her through Sahara’s adoring eyes, but seeing some weakness in her teaching ability would have been nice and more realistic.
All in all, the book was fun to listen to. The narration by Phylicia Rashad was very well done. Her voice was musical and evocative. I would recommend this book to kids who want to be writers or teachers. They will find a lot to think about.